Disability and Cancer Harassment
What Sort of Conduct May Be Illegal?
Jokes, or harassment, concerning your assistive device, such as a cane, wheelchair or hearing aid.
Jokes, or insults, about the side effects of chemotherapy, such as hair loss, weight change.
Harassment concerning your HIV positive, or Hepatitis C positive status.
Insulting treatment, due to your disability.
Nasty comments about other people with disabilities, which are offensive due to your disability.
Your Employer is Responsible for Disability Harassment if it Altered your Working Environment
You must show that the harassment altered your working conditions. For example, knowing you are likely to hear something offensive about your disability when you encounter someone, alters your work environment. It does not have to happen every day, or even every week, but it does have to be something you have come to expect, and want to avoid. A single incident can be severe enough to alter your work environment where it involves physical harm or the threat of physical harm, or extreme misconduct.
You Must Show the Employer Knew or Should Have Known About the Harassment, and Failed to Stop it
An employer knows, or should know about harassment, where a manager witnesses the harassment; where someone complains to the employer about it, or where the employer knows the harasser has harassed others. If the employer fails to stop the harassment, it can be held legally responsible for it.
You do not have to show that it knew about it, if it has no written policy against disability harassment, the harassment was committed by an owner or top officer, or the harassment coincided with a change in pay, hours or employment.
What Should You Do if You are the Victim of Disability Harassment?
Make sure your harasser knows that you find it offensive. If you can solve the problem on your own you are better off. If it ends, move on. Complaints to management rarely have happy endings.
Preserve evidence: offensive comments are often texted, or emailed. Save them. Take a photo with your cell phone of offensive postings. Ask your coworkers for signed statements; once you make a complaint, they will be too scared. But before you secretly record a conversation, make sure it is legal in your state, and understand that the consequences of getting caught may be getting fired.
If management has been aware of the harassment and allowed it to continue, the most likely result of a complaint will be retaliation. Speak to an attorney before you complain to management. An attorney can help you collect evidence, which will you give you the option of making a formal complaint backed by proof, or, when appropriate, going to court.
If you think you are being harassed due to disability at work, please email us any questions you have, call us at 888-369-1119, or fill out one of our forms online. Your consultation will be free and confidential.
E-mail your question about Hostile Work Environment.
You may call or fax me if you prefer:
Friedman & Houlding LLP,
Representing Victims of Sexual Harassment for 15 Years
Phone: 888-369-1119 Fax: 866-731-5553
- All correspondence strictly confidential -